That’s not to say their games aren’t entertaining, of course. The rest of the league seems to enjoy them, and all three of their matchups have offered late drama. It’s now taking over for Kings-Sharks as the Pacific rivalry your east coast friend starts praising a few years after it got good.
Didn't take long for ANA/LA to boil over. Their games are the best in the league right now— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 14, 2018
(NOTE: Friedman already knew, because he knows things. His tweet is just a nice summation.)
It’s just a shame that we’re so easily able to trace the trajectory of a Kings-Ducks game now. In three matchups, we’ve seen three early Ducks leads, three late Kings comebacks, two three-fight periods, and two suspension-worthy hits. Even Nick Shore’s third goal of the season was predictable, because the second one came in the last Freeway Faceoff! Like, come on, try to be fresh.
Maybe I’m not being fair. Last night’s game did have several memorable moments, which should live on like Shore’s overtime winner in Game One and Dustin Brown’s dramatic game-tying goal in Game Two. The juiciest? The late hit delivered by Andrew Cogliano unto the head of Adrian Kempe, which left the Department of Player Safety little choice but to suspend Cogliano. This would be fine and dandy if Cogliano wasn’t less than two years away from breaking the NHL’s iron man record. Instead, Cogliano will see his consecutive games streak end at 830.
On the bright side, his suspension ends just in time for him to face the Kings again. No matter how many Ducks fans tweeted at NHL Player Safety about Tanner Pearson’s elbow, there was no changing this decision. The good news for them? Cogliano only got two minutes of penalties. Perhaps after watching Kurtis MacDermid fight Jared Boll, Andy Andreoff fight Kevin Bieksa, and Kyle Clifford fight Nick Ritchie, the refs weren’t willing to force four guys to share a penalty box for too long.
hose back-to-back fights had little effect on the game, but Cogliano getting out of the box sooner had an effect. LA put together an impressive power play which couldn’t beat John Gibson, and Anaheim scored 33 seconds after the penalty expired. Ondrej Kase managed to sneak a shot past Jonathan Quick, on an innocent shot that wasn’t particularly well aimed. Remarkably, he’d score an even easier goal two minutes into the third, when Quick got caught behind his own net and gave the puck away.
Kase might have gotten his #1 star designation through pure happenstance, but Alex Iafallo had to work really dang hard to earn the #2 star. It helped that Ryan Kesler wasn’t about to earn a star at Staples Center, even though he had the game’s second goal, a PP slapper which beat Quick up high. (He, Cogliano, and Jakob Silfverberg also didn’t allow a single scoring chance against at 5v5.) But Iafallo earned it, as he looked like an extended rest had done him good. Though he had a goal disallowed because he punched it in with his glove, he continued creating chances and ended up with the best shot differential of any Kings forward. He was deserving of his lone point of the evening, too.
That goal came five minutes after Shore’s tally, and in that time, the Ducks had just one shot attempt. It’s become routine for LA to make these late charges and for Anaheim to allow them to happen. If Quick hadn’t kicked off the third in such an ignominious matter, it might have been enough for LA to once again nab a point or two. Instead, LA was forced to try to find an equalizer late, and the goalie pull didn’t pay off this time. Tyler Toffoli was painfully close to reeling in an Alec Martinez backhand pass with a gaping net, and Corey Perry hit the gaping net at the other end. LA now gets the other California team at Staples, and if they again trail by three in the third, they’re a lot less likely to get themselves back into it.
The good news? We can choose to remember this game for the presence of Bob Miller instead. You can watch the full, 17-minute pregame banner ceremony here.